Is adequate attention given to emotion, motivation, and volition in education?

Viewed as a whole, there is certainly not adequate attention given to emotion, motivation, and volition in education, but there is disparity in the three insufficiencies. I went on a hunch, based on previous research findings, that there was a lot more information on motivation than on emotion or volition. Sure enough, I found superfluous research regarding motivation in education. Using ERIC, I did three searches for the main keyword “in education”. The first search also included “motivation” or “motivations” as keywords and yielded 1,149 results. The second, using keywords “emotion” or “emotions” yielded 158 results. The final search, which included “volition” or “conation” as keywords yielded only 7 results!

I believe the amount of research epitomizes the level of attention given to the three. It seems that, whether attempts are genuine or specious, there is a fair amount of attention placed on increasing student motivation. Occasionally, and more so recently, we hear about stimulating positive emotions in learners. However, I don’t think that I’ve ever heard a sustained conversation regarding volition, though. To me, this reveals a colossal opportunity for improvement.

This obvious deficiency should be a concern of teachers since guidance in self-regulation will increase the likelihood of academic success (Martinez, 2010). Martinez (2010) likens volition to the act of making a sandwich. If one is already in the kitchen or in the classroom, there’s a good chance that they are hungry- whether for food or education. Failure to ‘make the sandwich’ may occur due to a perceived lack of ingredients or a change in one’s hunger. The former situation is certainly within the teacher’s control. Undoubtedly, some individuals are prone to impulsivity and will require more assistance in developing effective self-regulation strategies. This fact should not hinder those who are hungry from learning how to access and apply ingredients they have available to use. In continuing to disregard the issue, we will end up with a lot of half made sandwiches.


Martinez, M. (2010). Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


Nicholas S. Favazzo, 2013

Nicholas S. Favazzo is graduate student in the Educational Technology MA Program at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL.


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